Changing an Arrogant Disposition
By Xiaofan, China
In August of 2019, I took up video production duties and was put in charge of the work. At the time, I had the least time in the field of anyone in the team. I knew being chosen to be in charge was God’s exaltation of me, so I promised myself that I would do my best to fulfill this duty. At the start, I saw that there was much work and professional knowledge to learn and master in the team, and I felt like there was too much I lacked. During that period, I often asked questions with the sisters who were my partners, and I was able to humbly accept their suggestions. But before long, I was familiar with the team’s work and mastered the professional knowledge. I was able to discover problems when I edited videos. When my brothers and sisters had technical problems, I was also able to resolve them. When my partners encountered problems they couldn’t resolve, they asked me for advice. I not only had unique insights, I also often solved their difficulties. My sisters said I learned so quickly it was hard to believe I was a novice. When I heard this, I felt very proud of myself. I thought, “I’ve been in the team the shortest time, the others have done this longer than me, but now I, a newcomer, am guiding them. This must mean I have better caliber than them and have a talent for this work.” When my brothers and sisters were in bad states, to differing degrees, my fellowship also helped them resolve their states. Sometimes they would even say, “Without your fellowship, we really wouldn’t know how to solve this problem.” I had joined the team just over a month prior, but had made progress in the professional aspects and produced so many results. The more I thought about it, the more I felt like an irreplaceable talent.
Gradually, my attitude began to change. I wasn’t as subdued as I used to be, and I unconsciously started to consider myself the lynchpin of the team. I thought I had higher caliber and was more capable than anyone. When brothers and sisters asked me technical questions, I used to discuss and communicate with my partners, but now, I directly offered answers without consulting with them at all. When we were discussing work, my sisters raised some conflicting opinions. I rejected each of them without seeking and demanded they do things my way. I also arranged work tasks without discussing things with them. I thought that since I had served as a leader and had experience, I could directly arrange things. Sometimes my sisters only learned about my arrangements once they were made. At that time, a sister dealt with me, saying I was too arrogant, I acted as I pleased without discussing things with them, and that it was easy to make mistakes performing my duty like this. I outwardly agreed, but inside I thought, “There’s nothing wrong with not discussing things with you. My views are better than yours, and once we discuss things, you’ll end up doing things my way anyway. Why bother wasting time on this process?” And just like that, I refused to accept my sister’s advice and help and did things however I wanted. As time went on, because I constantly rejected my partners’ suggestions, most of the time, I ended up making all the work arrangements myself, and when we discussed other work, no one expressed their opinions. They even started to feel like they couldn’t do this duty and became negative, and many times revealed that they didn’t want to be partnered with me. Several times, coming back from meetings, they said, “I wish I didn’t have to go back to that team. Being there is exhausting. …” At the time, I didn’t reflect on myself. I said in a mocking tone, “You two are so weak. You really are fragile!” Because I always had the final say and didn’t discuss things with my sisters, it didn’t take long for those two sisters to become so negative that they wanted to resign. More and more problems started appearing in my duties. I didn’t notice problems in our videos and had to re-edit them when others found out. I gave incorrect professional guidance several times, which also led to repeated work. There were many oversights in my work arrangements, the team’s work was less and less effective, and no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t turn it around. I felt very tortured by my predicament, to the point that I wanted to resign. But just in time, God’s judgment and chastisement came to me.
My leader, after learning about my performance, wrote a stern letter to expose and deal with me, “Most of your brothers and sisters have reported that you are arrogant and self-righteous in your duties, you can’t cooperate with your partners, you don’t accept the suggestions of your brothers and sisters, you decide everything by yourself, and you hold all the power in the team. These are manifestations of an antichrist’s domination and arbitrariness. If you don’t reflect on yourself soon, the consequences will be serious. …” When I read my leader’s words, my head was buzzing, as if I had just been slapped. There was also a passage of God’s word in the letter: “The first manifestation of how antichrists demand that people obey them alone—rather than the truth and God—is that they are incapable of working with anyone else; they are a law unto themselves. … It may seem like some antichrists have assistants or partners, but when something actually happens, do they listen to what other people have to say? Not only do they not listen, they don’t even take it into account, much less discuss it; they don’t pay any attention at all, these people may as well not be there. Once the others have spoken, it is the antichrist’s final decision that must still be obeyed—anyone else’s words are wasted breath. For example, when two people are responsible for something, and one of them has the essence of an antichrist, what is exhibited in this person? No matter what it is, they and they alone are the one who gets the ball rolling, who asks the questions, who sorts things out, who comes up with a solution. And most of the time, they keep their partner completely in the dark. What is their partner in their eyes? Not their deputy, but simply window dressing. In the antichrist’s eyes, they simply aren’t their partner. Whenever there is a problem, the antichrist thinks it over in their mind, they ruminate on it, and once they have decided on a course of action, they inform everybody else that this is how it is to be done, and no one is allowed to question it. What is the essence of their cooperation with others? The fact is, they are the one who calls the shots. They act alone, speaking, problem-solving, and taking on work by themselves, their partners nothing but window dressing. And being incapable of working with anyone, do they fellowship their work with others? No. In many cases, other people only find out once they have already finished or sorted it out. Other people tell them, ‘All problems have to be discussed with us. When did you deal with that person? How did you handle him? How did we not know about it?’ They neither provide an explanation nor pay any attention; to them, their partner has no use. When something happens, they think it over and make up their own mind, acting as they see fit. No matter how many people there are around them, it’s as if these people are not there; to the antichrist, they may as well be air. In this way, does anything real come from their cooperation with others? No, they’re just going through the motions, acting a part. Other people say to them, ‘Why don’t you fellowship with everyone else when you come across a problem?’ To which they reply, ‘What do they know? I’m the team leader, it’s up to me to decide.’ The others say, ‘And why didn’t you fellowship with your partner?’ They reply, ‘I told him, he had no opinion.’ They use their partner having no opinion or not being able to think for themselves as an excuse to obfuscate the fact that they are acting as a law unto themselves. And this is not followed by the slightest introspection, much less acceptance of the truth—that would be impossible. This is a problem with the antichrist’s nature” (“They Would Have Others Obey Only Them, Not the Truth or God (Part One)” in Exposing Antichrists). God’s revelation of antichrists felt especially piercing and painful. I thought back on my behavior during that period, how after making some progress at work I thought I had caliber and competence, and was better than my two partners. In name, these two sisters were partners in my duties, but actually, they were just there as placeholders. When I arranged work, I never discussed things with them. I did whatever I thought was good, and felt that their opinions were worse than mine and weren’t worth considering. With some things, even if we discussed them, it was just going through the motions because I had decided what to do before we talked. Therefore, whenever my partners made suggestions different from mine, I rejected them out of hand without seeking and made them do things the way I wanted them done. The church arranged for us to work together to perform our duties, but I acted like a tyrant, demanded the final say in everything, completely froze out my sisters, and seized all power on myself. Wasn’t that the same as the great red dragon’s dictatorship? I thought about how I constrained my sisters, causing them to feel negative and try to resign, and how the team’s work was full of oversights. I wasn’t fulfilling my duty, I was disrupting the work of God’s house. When I realized this, I felt terrified. I had disrupted and disturbed the work of God’s house, as well as caused my brothers and sisters pain and misery. Would I be eliminated and punished for what I did? So I lived in negativity and misunderstanding.
One day, I coincidentally saw a passage of: “Because man has a corrupt disposition, and all his deeds and behaviors and all that he reveals are hostile to God, he is unworthy of God’s love. However, God still has such care and concern for man, and He arranges an environment for man in which to try him and refine him personally, enabling him to undergo change; He allows man, by means of this environment, to be equipped with truth, and to gain the truth. God loves man so much, with a love that is so real, and God is nothing but faithful. You will feel it. If God did not do these things, then none could say how far man would have fallen! Man tries to manage his own status, his own fame and fortune, and, in the end, after having done all these things, he wins others to his side and brings them before him—is this not in opposition to God? The consequences of continuing on in this way do not bear imagining! God does an excellent job, putting a stop to all this in time! Though what God does exposes man and judges him, it also saves him. This is real love” (“The Most Important Part of Believing in God Is Putting the Truth Into Practice” in The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days). When I saw this passage, I felt a warmth in my heart, as if God was right next to me, comforting and encouraging me. I understood that the pruning and dealing I experienced, although it was being revealed and judged, it was more so God’s love. God judged and exposed me to stop me from doing more wickedness. It also made me aware of my corrupt disposition and the wrong path I had taken. If I let myself go on like this, the consequences would be unthinkable. I thought of Jonah’s declaration to the people of Nineveh in the Bible, “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown” (Jonah 3:4). God sent Jonah to declare this not to state His intent to destroy them, but to remind and warn them, and give them a chance to repent. God’s disposition is righteous and majestic, but also loving and merciful. This is God’s righteous disposition. I understood even more clearly that God judged and revealed me, and also orchestrated things, matters and people to warn me. God’s intention wasn’t to punish me. He used this as a way to wake me up and make me repent. Once I realized these things, my heart was brightened, and I wasn’t so miserable. I knew I had to repent, or I would be in danger. I prayed to God over and over to ask for guidance in reflecting and gaining knowledge of myself.
One day, during my devotionals, I saw a passage of God’s word: “Arrogance is the root of man’s corrupt disposition. The more arrogant people are, the more liable they are to resist God. How serious is this problem? Not only do people with arrogant dispositions consider everyone else beneath them, but, worst of all, they are even condescending toward God. Even though, externally, some people might appear to believe in God and follow Him, they do not treat Him as God at all. They always feel that they possess the truth and think the world of themselves. This is the essence and root of the arrogant disposition, and it comes from Satan. Therefore, the problem of arrogance must be resolved. Feeling that one is better than others—that is a trivial matter. The critical issue is that one’s arrogant disposition prevents one from submitting to God, His rule, and His arrangements; such a person always feels inclined to compete with God for power over others. This sort of person does not revere God in the slightest, to say nothing of loving God or submitting to Him. People who are arrogant and conceited, especially those who are so arrogant as to have lost their sense, cannot submit to God in their belief in Him, and even exalt and bear testimony for themselves. Such people resist God the most. If people wish to get to where they revere God, then they must first resolve their arrogant dispositions. The more thoroughly you resolve your arrogant disposition, the more reverence you will have for God, and only then can you submit to Him and be able to obtain the truth and know Him” (God’s fellowship). After I read God’s word, I understood I acted arbitrarily and couldn’t cooperate with others because I had too much of an arrogant nature. I saw that because I was chosen to be in charge, mastered much professional knowledge, produced some results in my duties, and could resolve some problems, I lost control and thought very highly of myself. I felt I was talented and no one was as good as me, as if no one had higher caliber or was more competent at this work, so I put myself above the others and dominated them. In my duties, I did whatever I wanted and didn’t discuss or communicate with others at all. I didn’t even listen to my partners’ suggestions. No matter what they said, I thought I had the best opinions. I despised them in my heart and treated my partners as nothing but placeholders. My partners repeatedly reminded me to discuss things with them. These were God’s orchestrations and arrangements. I always made mistakes and ran into walls in my duties, which was God dealing with and disciplining me. But when these things happened to me, I didn’t seek or reflect. How could I say I had obedience or fear of God? I thought of how the archangel is arrogant. It had no fear of God in its heart. God created humans, but it wanted to manage humans, and it wanted to be on an equal footing with God. Arrogance and self-righteousness are classic satanic dispositions. I had this type of satanic nature, so how could I fear or obey God? How could I practice the truth or live out normal humanity? This is when I realized that resolving my arrogant disposition is key to achieving dispositional change! This was also the root cause of why I couldn’t cooperate with my partners.
Later, I recalled another passage of God’s word: “What God requires of people is not the ability to complete a certain number of tasks or accomplish any great undertakings, nor does He need them to pioneer any great undertakings. What God wants is for people to be able to do all they can in a down-to-earth way, and live in accordance with His words. God does not need you to be great or honorable, nor does He need you to bring about any miracles, nor does He want to see any pleasant surprises in you. He does not need such things. All God needs is for you to steadfastly practice according to His words. When you listen to God’s words, do what you have understood, carry out what you have comprehended, remember what you have seen, and then, when the time is right, practice as God says, so that God’s words may become what you live out, and become your life. Thus, God will be satisfied. You are always seeking greatness, nobility, and dignity; you always seek exaltation. How does God feel when He sees this? He loathes it, and does not want to look upon it. The more you pursue things like greatness; nobility; and being superior to others, distinguished, outstanding, and noteworthy, the more disgusting God finds you. If you do not reflect upon yourself and repent, then God will despise you and forsake you. Be sure not to be someone whom God finds disgusting; be a person that God loves. So, how can one attain God’s love? By receiving the truth in a down-to-earth way, by standing in the position of a created being, by firmly relying on the word of God to be an honest person and perform one’s duties, and by living out the likeness of a true human. This is enough” (“The Proper Fulfillment of Duty Requires Harmonious Cooperation” in The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days). God’s words made me understand that God doesn’t look at how much we achieve or how much work we do, nor does He look at our gifts and caliber. God looks at whether we can listen to His words, obey Him, live out normal humanity based on His requirements, cooperate with others, and fulfill our duties. This is what God looks at and wins His approval. But I didn’t understand God’s requirements. I could do some work and had some caliber and gifts, so I became arrogant, thought I was talented, felt I was better than anyone, put myself above everyone, and made them listen to me. I really lacked all reason. I thought of Paul in the Age of Grace. He had caliber and gifts, suffered much for preaching the gospel, did much work, and made others admire and look up to him, but in all his years of work, he achieved no change in his life disposition, he exalted himself and showed off, and finally spoke his most arrogant words yet, “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21). Thanks to all this, Paul ultimately failed to gain God’s approval and was punished eternally by God. No matter what gifts or caliber a person has or what status or might they possess among humans, if they don’t pursue the truth or achieve dispositional change, it’s no use. These things aren’t the truth or capital for people’s salvation. God doesn’t save or perfect people based on these things. I felt I had caliber, gifts, and talent, but I couldn’t live out even the most basic normal humanity, didn’t have basic respect for my brothers and sisters, and couldn’t accept correct advice. I wasn’t showing the slightest change in my disposition. My brothers and sisters reminded and helped me many times, and God smote and disciplined me, but I didn’t reflect on myself. It took severe pruning and dealing for me to reflect on myself. I was too numb! I had awful caliber! Someone of good caliber would seek the truth when things happen and be able to understand God’s will and learn lessons from environments God arranges. Looking at myself, I saw that I was blindly arrogant. I had no reason at all and I didn’t live out a human likeness, so how could I earn God’s approval? I also thought my two partners had done this duty longer than me, but I never saw them boast about their qualifications. They still sought and discussed with me when they had problems, and when I looked down on and belittled them, they were always tolerant and patient, and lovingly helped me. I felt guilty and ashamed seeing the humanity they lived out. I realized my reason and humanity were awful. I had no self-awareness at all! I caused so much damage and hindrance to the work of the video team, and so much harm to my partners. Given my actions, I was unworthy of such an important duty. As I realized this, I felt a heavy feeling of self-blame. I swore to myself, no matter whether I was dismissed or what outcome I faced in the future, I would pursue the truth, resolve my corrupt disposition, and no longer be arrogant and arbitrary.
Later, I saw another passage of God’s words that targeted my problem. “Harmonious cooperation requires letting others have their say and allowing them to make alternate suggestions, and it means learning how to accept others’ help and tips. Sometimes people say nothing, and you should prompt them for their opinion. Whatever problems you encounter, you should search for the principles of the truth and try to reach consensus. Doing things in this way will result harmonious cooperation. As a leader or a worker, if you always think yourself above others, and revel in your duty like some government official, always coveting the trappings of your station, always making your own plans, always running your own operation, always striving for success and promotion, then this is trouble: acting like some government official in this way is extremely risky. If you always act like this, not wishing to work with others, not wanting to dilute your power and share it with anyone else, not wanting anyone else to have the upper hand, to steal the limelight, if you only want to enjoy the power on your own, then you are an antichrist. But if you often seek the truth, if you turn your back on the flesh, on your own motivations and designs, if you take it upon yourself to work with others, and often open up to them, asking their advice and seeking guidance from them, if you are able to take other people’s opinions on board, and listen carefully to their thoughts and ideas, then this is the right path and direction. If you can get off your high horse and put titles aside, if you can disregard these things, and treat them as unimportant, and do not regard them as a kind of status or accolade, and believe, in the depths of your heart, that you are the same as everyone else, and if you put yourself on an even footing with them, and can even stoop to asking what other people think—earnestly, closely, attentively listening to what they say—then you will work in harmony with others. And what effect will this harmonious cooperation achieve? The effect is huge. You will gain things you never had before, new things, things of a higher realm; you will discover others’ virtues and learn from their strengths. There’s something else: You conceive of other people as stupid, dim-witted, foolish, inferior to you, but when you listen to their opinions, or other people open up to you, you will unwittingly discover that every person is complex, that they all have complex thoughts. And in this way, you will stop being a know-it-all, you will no longer consider yourself smarter and better than everyone else, and will cease to always live in this narcissistic and self-appreciative state. And that will protect you, will it not? Such is the outcome and benefit of working with others” (“They Would Have Others Obey Only Them, Not the Truth or God (Part One)” in Exposing Antichrists). From God’s word, I understood that no one is perfect and no one can see problems so clearly. Mistakes and deviations in our duties are inevitable, but as long as we learn to cooperate with others and learn from each other’s strengths, we can avoid these problems, and only then can our duties improve. The more we cooperate with our partners, the more we can discover the strengths of others, treat everyone fairly and justly, not belittle and look down on others. It also prevents us living in a state of arrogance and self-righteousness, acting like a tyrant, doing arbitrary things, or walking the path of the antichrist. But in my duties, I became arrogant, thought they were inferior to me. I always wanted to have the final say, I didn’t cooperate with my brothers and sisters, and ultimately, I harmed not only myself, I caused them much pain and misery, and delayed the work of God’s house. Only then did I realize the importance of cooperating with my brothers and sisters!
Later, I found an opportunity to open up with my partners. I told them how arrogant and self-righteous I became in my duty, the harm I caused them, and all the problems I recognized after reflecting. I also apologized to them and asked for their supervision. If they noticed I was being arrogant or self-righteous, or not accepting their suggestions, they could point it out, and prune and deal with me or report me if I didn’t accept it. Someone as arrogant and self-righteous as me required this kind of special treatment. Practicing this way, I felt especially steadfast, like a cancer patient who finally found a cure. Every day, I brought my problems before God and prayed to ask for His protection and discipline so that I could avoid doing such unreasonable things. Without realizing it, I became much more pious. Before acting, I also actively discussed and communicated with my partners, and when they raised differing opinions, rather than blindly deny them, I could seek and contemplate to see whether their views fit with the principle and what the advantages were, which also prevented me demanding to have the final say.
I remember once, we were discussing personnel transfers. I suggested transferring a sister to another group, but my partners didn’t advise transferring people around too much. They said we had to select and train new people. When I heard my partners’ differing opinion, I wanted to stress that my view was correct, but I realized I was about to act by my arrogant disposition. I immediately prayed to God in my heart, asking Him to help me deny and forsake myself. At that moment, I suddenly thought of God’s word, “Differences of opinion must not be treated lightly; you must take everything to do with your work very seriously. Don’t just ignore them and say, ‘Do you know about this or do I? I’ve been doing this for a long time—how could I not know more than you? What do you know? Nothing!’ This is a bad disposition” (“If You Cannot Always Live Before God, You Are a Nonbeliever” in The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days). Yes. My partners had raised an objection, so I had to contemplate it, and not insist too strongly on my view. What if my view on the matter had a problem? What was good about their suggestion, and what were the benefits to the work of God’s house? When I thought about it that way, I realized their suggestion really was more beneficial to our work. Cultivating new talent alleviates the personnel shortage problem at the root. By comparison, my view was a bit one-sided. In the end, we implemented their suggestion. I felt at peace. I thought I had finally been a reasonable person for once, denied myself, and obeyed the truth. It felt wonderful to be that way.
After a period cooperating with my partners, I found my two sisters considered problems more comprehensively than I did. Many of my suggestions were really inappropriate, but their advice made up for my deficiencies. When we cooperate with our partners, we should learn from each other’s strengths, and help, supervise, and restrain each other, which is how we get better and better at our duties. I also realized that none of us is better than the others. Each of us has our strengths and weaknesses, and no one can perform their duties well on their own. We need to cooperate with our partners and complement one another. That’s the only way to do our duties best and avoid taking the wrong path. Without the judgment, chastisement, pruning, and dealing in God’s word, I would still act from my arrogant dispositions and walk the path of antichrist, and in the end, I would be eliminated and punished by God. That I have this understanding and change today is the result of the judgment and chastisement of God’s word, and I am grateful to God for saving me!